On Wednesday (August 3), President Joe Biden signed an executive order directing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to work alongside states by using Medicaid waivers to pay the abortion expenses of women who cross state lines to receive an abortion.
Wednesday’s executive order marks the second executive order Biden has signed in response to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.
Giving virtual remarks, since Biden is still isolating because of testing positive for COVID-19, the President stated that he believed “Roe got it right, and it’s been the law for close to 50 years.”
He continued his address to the interagency task force on reproductive health care, saying, “I commit to the American people that we are doing everything in our power to safeguard access to health care, including the right to choose that women had under Roe v. Wade which was ripped away by this extreme court.”
In the executive order, Biden also instructs the HHS to consider providing technical assistance in addition to issuing new guidance that would ensure healthcare providers comply with non-discrimination laws.
To assess the impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Biden also directed the HHS to improve the data collection and research capacities of federal institutions like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The wording of the executive order is in parts rather vague, leaving the HHS to determine how to implement suggestions like the Medicaid waivers.
However, the White House lauded the impact the executive orders would have on women with lower income who cannot afford to travel out of state for an abortion.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, shortly after Biden signed the executive order, White House press secretary Jean-Pierre told reporters, “It’s going to help in particular low-income women,” adding, “It paves the way for Medicaid to pay for abortions for women having to travel out of state.”